Daniel Cassidy, in his insane and ridiculous book, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the American slang word beat comes from the Irish word béad. This is one of the many examples in the book where Cassidy simply ignored a perfectly logical and obvious English explanation for American English slang terms and opted for implausible explanations in a language he knew absolutely nothing about – Irish.
Beat means, according to Cassidy, ‘to rob, cheat or swindle’ or to be robbed, cheated or swindled. A ‘bad beat’, according to Cassidy, is a severe loss in poker and of course, a ‘dead beat’ is someone who is down and out. All of these meanings are perfectly easy to understand in terms of the various meanings of the English word ‘beat,’ meaning to flog, to defeat, to overcome.
But of course, Cassidy wasn’t interested in logical or reasonable explanations and neither are the ignorant dumbasses who continue to propagate this nonsense. Cassidy’s explanation is that it comes from the Irish word béad, which, according to him, is defined as ‘loss, injury, robbery, crime; ill-deed; ill-doings, an injury; sorrow; robbed or cheated; flattery; trick; cunning.’ Of course, this multifaceted definition doesn’t come from any dictionary. While the diminutive béadán is common enough in modern Irish (it means ‘gossip’), béad isn’t. Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, which is the most reliable, says simply that the word béad is a literary term for ill deed. Literary means very old in this context. It’s the kind of language which poets used in the 16th or 17th century. It isn’t a modern Irish term. Dinneen’s dictionary, which tends to mix and mingle words from all eras and dialects, says that béad means ‘a deed; crime or injury; sorrow, ill tidings or doings’. I can find no examples of this word in use in modern Irish.
If you look on Google, you might find one or two examples of the words béad or bead but be careful – these are Munster dialect versions of the first person future tense of the verb ‘to be’. They are verbal forms, not nouns. Someone is saying that they will be somewhere at some time. These words are unrelated to the word béad meaning ill deed.
Béad would be pronounced baid as well, to rhyme with laid or made. If it were borrowed into English, why wouldn’t it be borrowed as bade? This is just more cretinous nonsense from the Dork of New York and should be ignored by all reasonable and intelligent human beings.